What is Rooibos Tea?

Picture of Rooibos Tea
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Whether you reach for the red or the green variety, the sweet, nutty, and woody flavor of rooibos tea is sure to awaken your senses and calm your disposition. Going under the names rooibos, bush tea, red tea, or redbush tea, whatever you call this warm and flavorful drink you are sure to enjoy every sip. 

Where Did Rooibos Come From?

Pronounced roy-bos, the sweet and nutty tea dates back nearly 300 years, to the indigenous Khoisan people of South Africa, who harvested the rooibos plant for its medicinal qualities. Following the influx of English colonists to South Africa, the colonists took the knowledge of the indigenous Khoisan people to begin drinking and producing the tea themselves.

Rooibos Manufacturing and Production

Rooibos tea is still manufactured in largely the same manner that it was 300 years ago, when the Khoisan people would gather it from the mountains in their indigenous land to transform it into tea. 

For many years after the English colonists visited the Cederberg region of South Africa, the tea remained a secret as the indigenous population began to die out from disease. It was not until 1772 that a botanist began spreading the knowledge of tea around the world, increasing its popularity.

How is Rooibos Made?

Rooibos is produced by harvesting the rooibos plant, usually grown in the winter, and processing the leaves by chopping and grinding them. To make the red variety of tea, the ground plants are then left to ferment in piles, increasing the nutty and woody flavor and changing the color to reddish brown. 

The green variety is chopped less and not left as long in piles to ferment. Both varieties are then dried in the sun to create the dried leaves that are used to make the tea. Unlike 300 years ago, the dried leaves are then packaged and shipped all around the world so you can enjoy a warm cup of tea after work.

Beneficial for your Body

Not only does rooibos tea have a rich history dating back hundreds of years, but it also has a variety of health benefits that have helped boost its popularity to people all around the world. So, what are the benefits of adding rooibos tea to your diet?

  • Caffeine-free: Because rooibos does not have caffeine, it makes it a perfect alternative to black tea for those with caffeine sensitivities, children, pregnant women, or if you’re trying to stay away from caffeine to help with sleep and anxiety.
  • Full of antioxidants: Antioxidants, which contribute to cell health and help eliminate toxins from the body, are extremely beneficial. Like green tea, the green variety of rooibos has higher levels of antioxidants than its red counterpart.
  • Decrease cholesterol levels: Cholesterol, broken into “good” and “bad”, can clog arteries and lead to heart problems when consumed in high quantities. Drinking large quantities of rooibos tea daily can decrease “bad” cholesterol levels in the body, leaving only “good” cholesterol.
  • Weight management: Rooibos tea has zero calories, making it a perfect for when you want a delicious beverage but don’t want to consume too many calories or unhealthy chemicals. However, before you start drinking rooibos by the cupful, remember that this is without adding milk, sugar, or any other additives you might reach for when making the perfect cup of tea.

Brewing Brainstorm

Now that you know the origins and health benefits of this delicious tea, you may be wondering: how do I make it? Great question! 

This tea is a common household staple and can be found in almost any supermarket. So now that you’ve gotten your hands on some, let’s learn how to brew the perfect cup.

Temperature Matters

Rooibos tea is best when steeped in boiling water heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. Once you’ve boiled your water, it’s best to steep this tea for five to seven minutes. 

Rooibos tea is naturally low in tannins, the bitter chemical found in black tea, so leaving your leaves to steep a little longer won’t be the end of the world. Before drinking, you should still remove the leaves for the best flavor.

Add-ins Add Flavor

The wonderful thing about rooibos tea is that it is extremely versatile, and adding a few simple ingredients can alter your traditional pot of tea to something fitting any mood. 

Summer Sippin’

Brew a double-strength pot of rooibos and add ice to create an iced version of this healthy beverage. Add in a straw and some orange peel to make your cup pop even more with summer flavor.

Christmas Cool

It’s Christmas time and you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit with a cup of rooibos and an evening spent watching your favorite Christmas movie. Drop some peppermint leaves into your cup of tea with a splash of lemon juice to create a holiday-infused beverage. 

But not only is this addition going to get you in the Christmas spirit – the addition of peppermint leaves adds to the health benefits of this scrumptious beverage by soothing a sore throat.

Feeling Frothy?

Like chai and earl grey, rooibos tea can be enjoyed in latte form for an interesting spin on this old classic. Brew two or three rooibos tea bags or the equivalent in loose leaf form and add your sweetener of choice and vanilla extract into the steeped tea. 

Pour the tea mixture into mugs and top with frothed milk and cinnamon. Now you have a delicious tea latte that will satisfy your latte craving without the caffeine!

Rooibos Review

No matter how you choose to enjoy your cup of rooibos tea, you are sure to benefit from the many healthy qualities of this classic beverage. Personally, I prefer my rooibos with a splash of oat milk, a little honey, and my favorite mug. 

Next time you’re at the supermarket looking for some tea to get you through the cold winter nights, consider grabbing a box of rooibos and exploring the many benefits of this delicious and rich tea.